Introduction to Product Requirements Documentation for New Hardware Products

This post was originally published on Predictable Designs, the original article can be found here

What does a practical, hands-on product developer or maker dislike the most? In my experience, I would say spending time writing documentation instead of designing interesting stuff.

Usually, when a product developer has a clear understanding about the function of the device, he/she jumps straight into the design.

This is great, as there’s nothing better than having an early proof of concept prototype to show stakeholders you can make it.

However, after the proof of concept stage issues can arise if the engineer starts picking components and designing the schematics without first having formalized the functions, behavior, operating parameters and the expected performance of the device.

Always focus on the big picture before you dig down into all of the little details.

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PCB Layout Design Best Practices

One of the most fun parts of creating a real electronic circuit is (in my opinion) designing the Printed Circuit Board or PCB layout, and as anything in engineering, there are PCB Layout Design Best Practices.

This is the point where our abstract circuit schematic made by symbols and lines, becomes a real circuit that can be manufactured, assembled and used. (more…)

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Optimize the Energy Consumption of your Electronic Device

Energy consumption is an important parameter that not only concerns sustainability. It is true that by optimizing the use of energy on the device, less energy will be required to perform its function, therefore more efficient, but also by performing this optimization you will have an overall better product.  (more…)

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WindAid is also Electronics

This post was originally published on the WindAid blog. The article can be found here

Back in the summer of 2014, I had one of the best experiences of my life (sounds cheesy and the start of a teenage girl movie doesn’t it?). I was just finishing university and graduating with an electronics engineering bachelor degree at the University of Plymouth and before getting hooked into a 9-5 job I was looking to have an experience where I could combine three different factors (more…)

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Wind turbines with Twitter accounts

Wind Turbines with Twitter accounts? Unconventional perhaps, but it’s a zero service cost option I was able to implement that allows WindAid Institute, a Peruvian Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to receive notifications from their wind turbine systems in rural Peru. The open source remote monitor project (or ReMona) was born out of a need to:

  • Receiving system alerts, such as battery level being critically low.
  • Wanting Live data to track system usage and turbine performance anywhere in the world.

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PCB Technology 101

Most of us have come across PCB Technology and FPCB in our day to day usage of electronic devices. However, few of us have ever taken time to think about how PCBs and PCBA are made. So we keep wondering how the PCBs that drive our appliances including computers and microwaves are actually made. In this article, we delve into what PCBs are, the materials used in making them, the cost and the process of manufacturing them. (more…)

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Virtual Coffee with a Firmware Engineer

Nowadays, most electronic devices out there require some form of intelligence or decision making. Sometimes very talented electronic engineers can make this using purely analogue and digital electronics together and substantially reduce the costs of the project. However, it is more than common to find that almost all electronic products have a microcontroller inside. These little computers introduce the possibility of measuring analogue signals so they can be processed, enable communication between peripherals, and execute a code taking into account the inputs of your system, just to name a few things. (more…)

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DIY Telematics Box

Lately, there has been a rise in dashcams sold worldwide to protect the driver’s insurance claims. Most of the time, these have been sufficient. I recently bought my first car and had to drive about an hour on the motorway to my first job. Being a new driver, I had my car fitted with a black box (telematics box) to monitor my driving. A few years later, I bought my second car, but I didn’t have a telematics box installed. Given the driving styles I have seen from various individuals on my commute to and from work, I felt a dashcam alone would not be sufficient, and I really wanted to have something that could monitor my driving in the event of some idiot thought they were on the set of the next Fast & Furious. So I made my own! (more…)

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Dissection of a Successful HW Product Crowdfunding Experience

One of the main challenges that HW startups face is the issue of financing the project. Fortunately, in the last years, a range of different alternatives has risen allowing many companies to take that initial jump and pay for development and manufacturing costs. One of the most popular ways to finance a project nowadays without involving banks and investors is through crowdfunding. What the backers get in return can either be a percentage of ownership of the company or a special edition product (sometimes even both). (more…)

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